What does Christmas mean to you? There are so many aspects of this special season that bring us joy. I urge you to take a moment and think about what matters most. Take a deep breath, smile and think about the true meaning of Christmas.
Part of Christmas is about “shopping”-whether online or in the hustle and bustle of the stores. Personally, I love to give gifts, so shopping is fun for me. I keep each special person that I love in my mind and my heart, as I search for something that person would enjoy, and I imagine the look of joy on each face when they open it. We have 7 grandchildren, and only one is a girl, so it was fun to think about what to get her, in particular. This year we got her Ana’s dress from Frozen. Since she loves “dress-ups,” it is sure to be a special hit. But maybe the whole gift-giving thing is stressful for you– that is true for many people. Don’t feel bad if that’s where you are—after all, Christmas is not primarily about shopping.
Does Christmas mean “eating?” There are smells and tastes of Christmas—my mother used to make 6 kinds of cookies, laboring in the kitchen for hours and turning out perfectly shaped and decorated treasures that were absolutely yummy. I remember what that platter of cookies looked like—a work of art, with every shape a wonderful treat. I love this memory. I hope you have some good memories of the smells and tastes of Christmas that make you smile, too. Today, I bake only one kind of cookie—the cut-out, bake and frost kind, and I have had to find a gluten-free version of the recipe. So, I must say, that for me, Christmas is not about eating. My how times have changed!
For many, Christmas means “family.” I just heard a great new version of the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” by MercyMe and it always feels poignant to me when the lyrics say “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” Our culture today is so spread out, and family often lives so far apart that it is a challenge to get together. For some people it is only a dream that they can actually be together with family; maybe you fall in this category. Our family is spread out across four states from east to west, but thankfully everyone cares about being together, so we start planning months in advance to make it happen. When we gather together—all 15 of us, including the 7 grandkids— it is a time of wonderful craziness. We laugh about being grateful that adults outnumber kids! Being with those we love is a key part of Christmas, but it is not the true meaning of Christmas.
Amidst all the activities, what I love most about Christmas is stopping to contemplate its true meaning. To me, Christmas is about Hope! Linus had it right in the first Charlie Brown movie.
The story is found in Luke, Chapter 2. Picture Linus dressed as a shepherd, with his blanket wrapped around his head, on stage in the Christmas play that Charlie Brown had been agonizing over. The story told there is one of hope. The first miraculous Christmas is described. Jesus was born in Bethlehem “and there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14
Do you believe this story? Do you realize the hope that is proclaimed here? The day of Christ’s birth, now celebrated every year as Christmas, is God’s message of hope to all of us. An angel proclaimed that this baby is our Savior. He came to earth and died in our place so that all of us who believe could have the HOPE of eternal life. Do not be afraid—believe! We will shop, eat and enjoy time with family at this time of year, certainly. But peace on earth is found in the hope that this tiny baby brought to us. This is the true meaning of Christmas!